Rep. Scott Taylor (R-Virginia) is facing allegations of election fraud, with Democrats saying he submitted fake signatures to get an independent candidate on the ballot.
Taylor is running his first re-election campaign in the 2nd Congressional District against Democratic challenger Elaine Luria, a former Navy commander. Cook Political Report has rated the district “Lean Republican” with an R+3 score, meaning the district is only three percentage points more Republican-leaning than the rest of the country, on average. To put that in perspective, the recent Ohio special election in which Republican Troy Balderson won by less than one percentage point was rated R+7.
Given the closeness of the race, a progressive independent candidate qualifying for the ballot would likely split the vote and hand the election to Rep. Taylor. This is likely why the Virginia Democratic Party is accusing Taylor’s aides of forging signatures to get independent Shaun Brown — who ran as a Democrat against Taylor in 2016 and lost — on the general election ballot. According to The Washington Post, Democrats are now suing to remove Brown from the ballot prior to November. Some of the voters say their signatures were forged, and that they never signed the petition for Brown to be put on the ballot:
Thirty-five people signed affidavits saying their signatures or those of their deceased relatives were forged, according to the lawsuit.
They include Elizabeth “Bet” Cake, the widow of R. Stuart Cake, a longtime civil servant for the Navy, who died in April, before the date on which he is supposed to have signed the petition. Del. Glenn R. Davis Jr. (R-Virginia Beach) said signatures for him and his wife were forged, as well.
Even though Brown only needed 1,000 signatures to qualify, and more than 2,500 signatures were submitted, approximately 1,600 of those signatures had various issues disqualifying them from being included in the final count. The Post reported that many of those signatures were from outside the 2nd Congressional District, and that the actual amount of signatures did not meet the required threshold.
Roanoke Commonwealth Attorney Donald Caldwell has been appointed as a special prosecutor to investigate the claims of election fraud against Rep. Taylor. If indicted, Taylor would likely face a charge of false statements under Virginia code § 24.2-1016, which carries a penalty of a class 5 felony. Virginia penal code specifies that class 5 felons must serve between one and 10 years in jail, and pay a fine of up to $2,500.
Nick Jewell is a freelance political writer, and a proud resident of Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.